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Mentone Girls' Grammar School | Kerferd Library

Science | Report writing: Overview

Inquiring – identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas [Australian General Capability 7] | Science inquiry skills [ACF.s200]

Source:  Black, S., (2019), Digital montage.

Referencing Notice Don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For help see the Junior School or Senior School referencing guides, and / or CiteMaker.
Resource Key

When accessing content use the numbers below to guide you:

LEVEL

Brief, basic information laid out in an easy-to-read format. May use informal language. (Includes most news articles)

LEVEL

Provides additional background information and further reading. Introduces some subject-specific language.

Level 3 resourceLEVEL

Lengthy, detailed information. Frequently uses technical/subject-specific language. (Includes most analytical articles)

Science report writing | Keywords

Level 1KeywordsKeywords and phrases

Click on the terms to access a simple definition from the Oxford Dictionary online. The definitions for words and phrases marked with a hash # come from alternative sources.

Academic voice #, Bias, Cite, Copyright, Creative commons #, Empirical, Evidence, Infographic, Licence agreement, Literature review #, Plagiarism, Reference, Research.

Science report writing | eBooks

Level 1 resourceUsing eBooks off campus help and instructionsClick on the following book covers to access the eBook online. If prompted, sign in with your School mConnect user name and password.

Science report writing | Step 1 - Define the task

  • Define the taskRead the question and highlight the key terms.

Devise a QUESTION to research in the area of SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT, conduct RESEARCH to ANSWER this question and present YOUR findings in a WRITTEN format and multimedia PRESENTATION (including infographics)

  • Write the question in your own words to make sure you understand the task.
  • Use your existing knowledge to brainstorm [5 minutes] what you already know about the topics that interests you. Use your existing knowledge and interests to narrow the topic down to something that is manageable. For example, marine ecology and pollution is too broad, but one type of pollution and its impact on the ecology is more manageable, e.g. microplastics.
  • Write down what area of science your question/topic relates to: Biology, Genetics, Physics, Astronomy or Space, Chemistry, Environment, Ecology, Nanotechnology, Healthcare, Computer science, Medicine or Psychology. For this example on microplastics the areas of science could include: BiologyChemistryEnvironmentEcology.
  • Do some background reading to ensure you have a basic understanding of the topic and related issues. Use a trustedauthoritative, and up to date information source. HINT: Britannica Encyclopaedia (see following) provides quick and accurate summaries.
  • Remember, depending on the topic there may be more than one word that is used. e.g. nanoplastics versus microplastics. Check to make sure you understand the terms as well as when and how they are applied. 

HintUse the following glossaries to make sure you understand and use your search terms and keywords. Use Encyclopaedia Britannica to search on short and accurate summaries so you can build up your knowledge about your subject. With Encyclopaedia Britannica you can also gather keywords that will help you with your more in-depth research.

  • From your background reading, identify some keywords to help you refine and focus your topic to make it manageable. You can also "use keywords to skim and scan text. This way you can quickly decide whether the information you're looking at is useful." (Ergo, n.d.) For example, if you're researching into microplastics some keywords could be:
    • nanoplastics 
      (make sure you get an authoritative and reputable definition of nanoplastic and how this is different to microplastic)
    • microplastic
      ​(make sure you get an authoritative and reputable definition of microplastic and how this is different to nanoplastic)
    • Primary microplastics - microbeads
    • Secondary microplastics - degradation
    • Food chain
    • Colloidal
    • Toxicology
    • Pollution
    • Chemicals and compounds:
      • carbon
      • hydrogen
      • polymer chains
      • phthalates
      • polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
      • tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)
    • United Nations Expert Panel of the United Nations Environmental Programme

HelpBased on your preliminary reading and keywords, start organising your thoughts and work. Hint: start arranging your paragraph / section headings. The section headings should tie back to the assignment question; this ensures you stay on track and don't miss a key point. You can rearrange these headings as you find more information. You can also remove the headings from your finished work if they are not required. For example:

1. Introduction 2. What are microplastics? 3. Issues / Problems: 3a. risks associated with chemicals and compounds  3b. Social, economic, political, environmental, cultural or ethical impacts versus benefits 4. Recent changes & developments relating to the problem 5. Recent research and methods or alternatives to address the problem 6. Which countries are leading the way and why? 7. Funding: private versus public / is public funding justified? 8. Conclusions

NOTE:

  • The introduction should introduce the topic and provide a very short overview of the issues. Anybody reading the introduction should have a clear understanding of the topic, the issues at hand, the approach you are taking, what type of research you are using, and what type of conclusions are you attempting to make. HINT: write your introduction AFTER you have written the body of your work.
  • The conclusion should bring together your research and arguments. In a longer assignment you might have a separate section for recommendations (based on your research). As this is a short assignment you may want to put your recommendations in your conclusion. When doing longer science reports (especially where you are expected to do an experiment) you would include a section on what scientific methods you used, as well as separate sections on the experiment's outcomes, your observations, and your recommendations as well as conclusions.

For more information and support see Ergo at the State Library of Victoria

Science report writing | Step 2 - Locate information

Finding informationFind information to build your knowledge and support your argument.

  • When conducting your research:
    • use the keywords you identified in step 1 as this will help you stay on topic.
    • Keep track and document the resources you find irrespective of whether you use them or not. In doing your research you may find you need to go back and use a resource you previously rejected. If you have it documented you will save time finding it again.
    • In doing your research you may find examples where other people dispute your argument and present facts which may indicate your argument is wrong. Do not ignore facts that dispute your ideas. You need to recognise these alternative views in your research and use empirical facts and evidence to support your argument.
    • An annotated bibliography is a great way to document the resources and information you find when doing your research. With an annotated bibliography you not only record and keep track of what you have found and where it is located, you also include a short reflection / sentence on what the item is about, its scope, limitations, and why you are using it, as well as not using it. Hint: While you are planning your first draft, it is a good idea to get one of the School's tutors to check your annotated bibliography. The tutor can help ensure that you have not missed a vital piece of information BEFORE you start writing your report.
      • For help and instructions on how to write a simple annotated bibliography click here, and
      • For help and instructions on how to write a more advanced annotated bibliography click here.  

Trusted, authoritative, and up to date information

The Kerferd Library has a wide range of trusted, authoritative, and up to date resources to support your science research. Science also has an impact on the environment and the library has a wide range of resources that are aligned to the UN sustainable development goals. See the following links for details. 

Also consider using the following information sources:

For more information and support see Ergo at the State Library of Victoria

Level 1 resourceFilm and videoUsing YouTube on campus help and instructionsTo view this video on campus remember to first login to your school Google account using your mConnect username and password. Click here for more help on using YouTube on campus.

"How can you spot bad science reporting? Host Myles Bess helps you get above the noise by following 4 simple letters: G - L- A- D." (Bess, 2017)

Click here for more information relating to this video clip.
Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: Bess, (2017) or (Bess, 2017)
Bibliography / Reference list: Bess, M., (2017). Top 4 Tips To Spot Bad Science Reporting, [eVideo]. Above The Noise. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZZYSBlLRxfs

Science report writing | Step 3 - Select resources

Selecting resources"Once you've found your resources, you need to choose the best ones to use for your assignment.... Take your time – it's better to find the right information than just use the first thing you find. In making a decision:

For more information and support see Ergo at the State Library of Victoria

Science report writing | Step 4 - Organise your notes

Organise your work"Organising the information you've read into a good set of notes will make writing your assignment much easier and quicker." (Ergo, n.d.)

Use your annotated bibliography to start organising your literature review and research according to the headings you developed in step 1.

For more information and support see Ergo at the State Library of Victoria

Science report writing | Step 5 - Write your report

Write your report

HelpReview the organised headings created in step 1 that you used as a guide to scope out your research. Based on what you have found in your research you may need to change and / or reorganise your headings. 

Use your notes for ideas to start writing your response/findings under each heading. Use your annotated bibliography to identify relevant quotes that support and back up your work. The following example uses the headings developed in step 1:

1. Introduction

Introduce the topic and provide a very short overview of the issues you are going to address.

2. What are microplastics? 

One or two paragraphs describing microplastics. From the initial overview research and keyword list, we found there are primary and secondary microplastics, so you have to make sure you mention this fact in this paragraph. The initial research also identified the word colloids, as well as a number of chemicals found in microplastics. You need to make sure these facts are covered in this section.

3. Issues / Problems: 3a. Risks associated with chemicals and compounds  3b. Social, economic, political, environmental, cultural or ethical impacts versus benefits

One or two paragraphs describing issues and problems involving microoplastics. If, from your research, you have identified that there are issues with microplastics because of the chemicals, their size, and how they present themselves in the environment, you need to discuss these facts in this paragraph. HINT: has the issue of microplastics been discussed within the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals? If so, make sure you include these facts here.

4. Recent changes & developments relating to the problem 

If your research has identified there have been changes to the amount and / or distribution of microplastics, put these facts into this section. 

5. Recent research and methods or alternatives to address the problem

If you research has identified new methods and / or alternatives, put these facts into this section. 

6. Which countries are leading the way and why? 7. Funding: private versus public / Is public funding justified?

One or two paragraphs with facts from your research that describe which countries are leading the way and why. Explain where the funding comes from, and the implications of the funding sources (e.g. ongoing sustainability, is there enough funding, are there terms and conditions attached, is it leading to effective outcomes) .

8. Conclusions

Wrap up your argument, summarise what you have found, and draw YOUR conclusions BASED on the information and facts you identified in the preceding sections. Don't add new ideas and facts in your conclusion. However, given the word length for this assignment, you may not have space for a separate section dealing with recommendations and areas for additional research and development. If this is the case, add YOUR recommendations and ideas for additional research into your conclusion.

Remember:

  • Stay within the word limit set for the assignment. 
  • The introduction should introduce the topic and provide a very short overview of the issues. Anybody reading the introduction should have a clear understanding of the topic, the issues at hand, the approach you are taking, what type of research you are using, and what type of conclusions are you attempting to make. HINT: write your introduction AFTER you have written the body of your work.
  • The conclusion should bring together your research and arguments. In a longer assignment you might have a separate section for recommendations (based on your research). As this is a short assignment, you may want to put your recommendations in your conclusion.

Writing style

When writing a science report it is important to:

  • Avoid language that is casual, emotional and personal. Avoid using expressions such as "I think" or "we should".
  • Keep to the facts and use evidence and observations to back up your argument. When using another person's facts, figures and ideas you must use in-text referencing to clearly show which work is yours, and which is the work of others. This way, you avoid plagiarism. Your in-text references should also link back to your bibliography. See the following examples for details:

Referencing

A direct quote (the quote is in quotation marks to indicate it is word for word the same as the original text) with an in-text reference that shows the author, year published and page numbers (if appropriate). Note that because there are five authors only the first three are listed followed by et al. which means 'and others':

"The term nanoplastics refers to particles measuring between 1 and 100 nm, microplastics to particles of 0.1 µm (1000 nm) to 5000 µm, and mesoplastics to all materials above 5mm." (Fonseca, Gamarro, & Toppe, et al. 2017, pp. 43-45)

An indirect quote from the same source. Note there are no quotation marks but you still have to provide an in-text reference to say where you got the information even though you have put it in your own words.

As Fonseca, Gamarro, and Toppe et al. (2017, pp. 43-45) have noted, there are two types of microplastics, also known as nanoplastics. There are primary nanoplastics that have been manufactured to be small, typically between 1 and 100 nm for specific industrial or consumer purposes. Then there are secondary nanoplastics, which are larger pieces of plastic that have broken down and weathered into small microscopic pieces.

Irrespective of whether you use a direct or an indirect quote, you also need to ensure the source of the information is listed in your bibliography. This example contains quotes from the one source, therefore the bibliography entry is:

Fonseca, M., Gamarro, E., & Toppe, J. et al. (2017). The impact of microplastics on food safety: the case of fishery and aquaculture products. FAO Aquaculture Newsletter. 57(Sep), pp. 43-45. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/in-action/globefish/fishery-information/resource-detail/en/c/1046435

The school uses APA 4th edition. If required, use CiteMaker to double check your citations and references.

Science report writing | Step 6 - Create your presentation

  • Poster sessions and presentationsPresentations, posters and infographics should:
    • Present the topic, your research and your findings in a:
      • Clear, organised and logical way
      • In the same way that your written work should have a clear beginning, middle, and an end, your infographics should present the research question, your research approach, the issues and problems, as well as your findings and recommendations in a clear and logical way. For example, see the infographic on the right. You can click on the image to go directly to the source of the infographic located on Figshare.
      • Review of micro- and nanoplastic contamination in the food chainRemember, you must cite and reference all images, graphs and tables you used from other peoples' work. The reference for this infographic is: 
    • Ideally, your presentations should include:
      • The title or name of your topic
      • Your name
      • An overview of the topic
      • An overview of the research problem
      • The methodology / approach used in your research
      • The results of your research
      • Your recommendations and and conclusions
      • For extra points, consider identifying opportunities for further research.

Level 1 resourceFilm and videoUsing YouTube on campus help and instructionsTo view this video on campus remember to first login to your school Google account using your mConnect username and password. Click here for more help on using YouTube on campus.

"Tips on how to ace your science fair presentation, including what... judges will be looking for and how to properly deliver your information." (Jesse & Naomi, 2016)

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: Jesse &Naomi, (2016) or (Jesse & Naomi, 2016)
Bibliography / Reference list: Jesse & Naomi, (2016). How to Ace Your Science Fair Presentation!, [eVideo]. concordialts. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/TTTScWbHDy0

Science report writing | Step 7 - Review your work

Review your work

  • Check your work before you hand it in.
    • Better still, put your work away for a couple of days and look at it again with fresh eyes before handing it in OR
    • Get someone else to proof read your work.
      • Does it make sense?
      • Have you answered the question? Check your work against the teacher's rubric to make sure you have not left anything out. 
      • Are your thoughts and arguments laid out in a logical way? Does your work have a beginning, middle and an end?
      • Make sure your introduction sets the scene and introduces the topic. Have you introduced your approach to the research? What methodology or logic have you used?
      • Make sure the conclusion summarises your work, brings together your arguments, makes a recommendation, and comes to a conclusion. HINT: Don't introduce new topics or arguments in your conclusion.
      • Make sure you have correctly cited (in text references) and referenced (Bibliography) your work. This includes direct and indirect quotations. Check that your citations and references are correctly formatted. The school uses APA 4th edition. If required, use CiteMaker to double check your citations and references.
  • Review your work after it is marked
    • Identify what you did well, and what you can do better next time.

Science report writing | Videos

Level 1 resourceFilm and videoUsing YouTube on campus help and instructionsTo view this video on campus remember to first login to your school Google account using your mConnect username and password. Click here for more help on using YouTube on campus.

"A quick look at how to reference correctly in the APA style and how to avoid plagiarism." (Swinburne Online, 2017). While this video has been produced to support students at Swinburne university it provides a clear and short overview of how to get started with APA citing and referencing.

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: Swinburne Online, (2017) or (Swinburne Online, 2017)
Bibliography / Reference list: Illsley, P. & Rosevere, L., (2017). How to Reference - APA Style, [eVideo]. Swinburne Online. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/0X3iqxWr47s

Level 2 resourceThis video explains what to do if you are writing a scientific paper and you want to get it published in a scientific journal or magazine. As a year 10 student, you don't have to go into this level of detail. However, the video contains some great tips to help you write a better paper, and who knows - maybe even get published!

"The essence of the UK based Institute for Research in Schools is to enable secondary school students to undertake scientific research. This expands the students outlook on the scientific world, reinvigorates their teachers and benefits the scientific community as a whole." (Institute for Research in Schools, 2017)

"Publishing papers is how new discoveries are shared across the scientific community. IRIS, think that student researchers have just as much cause to be writing up their research as any other researcher. To demystify the process, they've made a couple of videos in collaboration with Institute of Physics Publishing, explaining the paper writing process. In this video they look at what actually goes into a paper; what to write, what order to write it in, how to write it, and what to do with your finished paper." (Illsley & Rosevere, 2017)

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: Illsley & Rosevere, (2017) or (Illsley & Rosevere, 2017)
Bibliography / Reference list: Illsley, P. & Rosevere, L., (2017). How to write and publish a scientific paper, [eVideo]. The Institute for Research in Schools. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/obv8Zqa_jYk

Case Studies

Be inspired by the research done by other students around the world.

Science report writing | Curriculum Alignment

Level 1Victorian CurriculumThis Mentone Girls' Grammar School LibGuide supports the following Victorian curriculum outcomes. Click on the links to explore more.


Australian Curriculum Alignment

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